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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

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and to this end, he appointed his second-in-command, a General of the
Tank Corps, Panfilov.
The Russian authorities were either unable or had no wish to give
figures of the number of Polish prisoners-of-war and other Polish citizens
retained in their country. When Sikorski had raised the question of the
prisoners-of-war with Alaisky in London, the latter had answered that
there were about 20,000. The Polish representatives in Russia had only
been able to find out that, in the camps of Grazovets, 1,000 officers
were under detention, and in Jushsky and Suzdalsky about 10,000 privates;
while another 10,000 were in Staro Bielsk. In addition, they were told
" a certain number of officers " had been taken Northward or behind the
Ural Mountains. Since the official Soviet communiques had announced
and repeated in the Press that during the Polish Campaign, the Russians
had taken altogether 300,000 prisoners-of-war among which number were
10,000 officers—an alarming and uncomprehensible difference existed
between the quoted figures and the actual number of Poles returned to the
Polish authorities. ce Every hundred Poles " said Sikorski in his speech after
signing the Agreement with Russia, " especially those who have survived
the rigours of the existing conditions of life in Russia and have not broken
under the strain, are of enormous importance for the future." Not only
every hundred, but, every individual person as well, thought the Polish
representatives, who were trying to trace their citizens in Russia. But to
the Soviets, so long accustomed to negligence with regard to their own
people, this anxiety seemed both useless and irritating.
" A Polish Army on the territory of the U.S.S.R." was the text of the
Polish-Russian Agreement of July 3oth, and the Polish representatives
were obliged more than once to emphasise this fact to the Russians, who
were not evincing any desire to have a foreign and independent army on
their territory, particularly a large sovereign army belonging to Poland.
It was not difficult to see that the Soviets had sufficient manpower and
weapons for the formation of more of their own units. It was only a question
of organisation. One outspoken Russian military chief connected with the
formation of the Polish Army said," We are not concerned with your five,
ten or fifteen divisions, we have hundreds of our own. If we start to arm
your divisions an equal number of ours will have to go unarmed." The
only suggestion they put forward was that * one or two Polish divisions
should be sent immediately to the front line.' The Kremlin was anxious
to show one European nation at least, who was fighting against the
German invaders " shoulder to shoulder M with the Soviets.
The Polish-Russian Military Agreement was concluded on August I4th.
It was a rather long and vaguely worded document, since neither side
could produce reliable figures. The Russians, anticipating a change for
the better on the front, where they were still in full retreat, were uncertain
how far to go with precise commitments towards the Polish Government.